x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Males remain scarce at universities

Measures to increase the number of Emirati men entering higher education are likely to be developed in the coming year.

Measures to increase the number of Emirati men entering higher education are likely to be developed in the coming year, following this year's university admissions in which women once again heavily outnumbered men. Last week officials approved places for 12,815 people to start at federal universities in September. Only 4,955, or 38.7 per cent, were men. This continues a long-established trend in the UAE in which thousands of men are lost to the education system each year when they leave school.

Subha al Shamisi, the executive director at the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, said a study was being undertaken to find out what young men were doing instead of university. "We expect they're going into the police or armed forces and other opportunities in the country. It's a global issue, it's not just in the UAE," she said. The same pattern is seen in many countries. In the US, for example, men make up little more than 40 per cent of university students. In the West Indies, the figure is 30 per cent.

Officials are keen to see more men enter higher education in the UAE because well-qualified men are needed to take up leadership roles and aid the country's development. The larger number of women applying for university entrance reflects performance in school, where girls score higher marks on average than boys in the Common Educational Proficiency Assessment tests and other graduation exams at government schools.

Miss Shamisi said the ministry hoped to have conclusions from its study "in the next few months" and planned to formulate policies that could influence university admissions in the next academic year. "We have to see what we come up with so we can produce a plan," she said. There are more women than men at both of the UAE's federal tertiary institutions open to both sexes, the Higher Colleges of Technology and UAE University.

The third federal university, Zayed University, is open only to women at its main campuses in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, although plans were announced last week to admit men. More men than women, however, take up overseas scholarships each year. dbardsley@thenational.ae